Foreign policy comes out of the same executive power circle that directs domestic affairs. So when President Donald Trump speaks in the open to the Poles, Russians, Germans or Chinese, he’s largely playing to the voters back home.
Otherwise, there might have been less reason for Trump’s hosts to bus in a crowd of well-wishers to Warsaw’s Krasinski Square for the U.S. president to greet.
The American president’s message proved to be a modified version of the us-versus-them stuff his fans eat up at domestic rallies.
Western civilization “must stand up to those who would destroy it,” Trump told the assembled Poles. “Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders?
“While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind.”
During a news conference alongside Andrzej Duda, Poland’s president, Trump complained yet again about alleged “fake news.”
As it happens, Duda’s party has tightened government control over state-owned media outlets and limited who can cover the Polish parliament.
Even overseas, as he prepared to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump spoke in the shadow of investigations to determine if his campaign colluded with the Russian government, which he denies.
On this subject, he mainly delivered a similar blend of what he says at home. He sought to cast doubt on his own country’s intelligence agencies that loosely tied cyberhacking of the Democrats to Putin & Co., his statements pulling in different directions.
It was a familiar Trumpian jumble. He said the culprit could have been Russia, probably was Russia, that he believes it was Russia — but that it could have been others, too. “I won’t be specific,” he said, without explaining why.
And as he did before leaving the country, Trump sought to cast blame for meddling and hacking on his American predecessor, President Barack Obama, for failing to act.
Then Trump — still soaking up adulation in traditionally Russia-weary Poland — sounded themes earlier voiced by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and members of the U.S. Senate, who were, no doubt, paying attention.
That is, Trump said Russia must “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere” and stop backing “hostile” governments in Syria and Iran.
All of that brings Trump further from positions expressed during the campaign, but closer to the official line that issued forth both before and after he reached the White House.